With the second largest market cap after bitcoin, Ethereum is one of the world’s most widely traded cryptocurrencies. However, if you’re planning on buying and holding any ETH, it’s important to find a secure wallet to ensure the safe storage of your tokens.
There’s an extensive range of Ethereum-compatible wallets available, so the challenge is sifting through them all to find one that suits you. So, what are some of the best options when it comes to Ether wallets? Read on to find out.
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11 popular wallets for Ethereum
Last updated September 2020. Prices are subject to change and should be used as a general guide only
What to look for in an Ethereum wallet
If you’re searching around for the best Ethereum wallet, make sure you look for the following features:
- Security. Security should be your number-one concern when choosing a wallet, so research the features and measures a wallet has in place to protect your funds. For example, does it come with two-factor authentication and what processes are in place to allow for easy backup and recovery?
- Smart contract support. Smart contracts are implemented on the Ethereum network against a public address, but to access this address you’ll need an ETH wallet that’s compatible with smart contracts.
- Private keys. Look for a wallet that allows you to retain control of your private key, as this allows you to control your ETH holdings at all times.
- Ongoing development. Ethereum wallets are a relatively new creation in the world of cryptocurrency, so it’s important to look at the development team behind a wallet. In addition, check whether that team is constantly working to improve the wallet and whether other users have had good experience with the wallet’s customer support staff.
- Ease of use. Cryptocurrency wallets can sometimes be confusing and complicated, so look for a wallet that’s easy to use and understand from the get-go.
- Compatibility. Can you access your wallet on the device or devices you want to use to manage your cryptocurrency?
- Support for multiple currencies. If you’re looking to store other crypto coins or tokens, does the wallet provide support for any other currencies?
Hardware wallets are offline vaults that provide a form of cold storage for your cryptocurrency. They’re widely considered to be more secure than web, desktop and mobile wallets.
- Security, storing a wide range of cryptocurrencies, quick setup and use
The biggest advantage of this wallet is its security. Offline wallets already have an advantage over online wallets or those stored on a PC or mobile device, but the TREZOR also offers a wide range of other features to secure your Ethereum holdings. These include two-factor authentication, advanced cryptography and a screen that allows you to check essential transaction details before you confirm.
However, there are a couple of downsides, the first of which is that it can be a little more fiddly and time-consuming to access your holdings, so it may not be a convenient storage option if you’re a regular trader. The other factor is the cost – at the time of writing, a TREZOR hardware wallet would set you back €89 (approximately HKD$820). That’s not a small amount of money, but it could be well worth it if you’ve got a large amount of ETH to store.
Ledger Nano S
- Security, ease of use, stores a variety of coins and tokens
- Cost, long shipping delays at time of writing
At the time of writing, the Ledger Nano S was listed for €79 (approximately HKD$728) on the Ledger website, so it’s cheaper than the TREZOR but still comes at a price. However, the popularity of this hardware wallet means that buyers might have to be prepared to accept a lengthy wait for orders to be shipped during periods of high demand.
- Security, multi-currency support
- It’s not cheap, relatively new company
The setup process is simple and straightforward, and you’ll need to download two Chrome applications – the first generates a wallet, and the second allows you to connect to KeepKey through Chrome. The user interface is easy to understand and, while it’s not really all that important, the design of the KeepKey device itself has been well received.
As for the drawbacks, KeepKey is still a relatively new company so doesn’t have as many “runs on the board” as other hardware wallet offerings. It also tends to retail for north of the US$129 mark, so you’ll need to be willing to cover this upfront cost if you choose this as your Ethereum storage option.
Web wallets, sometimes also called online wallets, run on the cloud and can be accessed anywhere you have an Internet connection. While they’re simple to set up and use and provide convenient access to your ETH, the fact that you’re storing your tokens online does expose you to greater security risks than some other options.
- Simple and convenient access, retain your private key, interact with smart contracts
You don’t need to provide any personal information to create a wallet and MyEtherWallet offers the handy feature of being able to write and access smart contracts. It also offers integration for hardware wallets like the Ledger Nano S and TREZOR, allowing you to manage your Ether in MyEtherWallet’s browsing platform.
Other features include an inbuilt ETH to BTC swap facility and support for Ethereum Classic and any other ERC20 token on the Ethereum platform.
However, some users of MyEtherWallet have reported being targeted by phishing attacks and hackers, so you’ll need to remember to take security precautions when using this free platform.
- Easy access, stores multiple currencies
- Private keys are not in your control, security risk of storing on an exchange
After creating a Coinbase account, you can exchange fiat currency for Ether, bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin, and then store your crypto funds in your Coinbase wallet.
There are other drawbacks to consider, most prominently the fact that you don’t retain control of your private keys. This means that you don’t have full control over your ETH and Coinbase could shut down your account if they want to.
- Easy access to the Ethereum network and dapps, user-friendly interface, private key protection
- Not as safe as hardware wallets, can be a little confusing at first
The MetaMask add-on can be installed in Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Brave, and was built with the aim of making Ethereum as accessible as possible. However, it’s not as secure as a hardware wallet, so it may not be the best option for holding large amounts of Ethereum.
Desktop wallets are software programs that can be downloaded and installed onto your computer. They’re known for being user-friendly, generally providing better security than web wallets (but not hardware wallets), and for being compatible with a range of operating systems.
- Holding all your ERC20 tokens in a simple and highly-explanatory wallet
- Hardware wallet compatibility for more secure transactions
The main downside so far might be that it doesn’t yet have any compatible hardware wallets. If you don’t have a hardware wallet this naturally might not be a problem. But if you’re looking for maximum security, you might want to check back once Ledger Nano S support, or similar, is available.
Another benefit of Mist is that it allows you to retain control of your private keys, which are stored on your computer. ShapeShift is built in to allow for fast currency exchanges, while smart contract support is also included.
However, a desktop wallet is never going to be secure as a hardware wallet, and there’s also the fact that some other wallets have simpler, more attractive user interfaces. If you’re new to the world of crypto, it might take you a little while to understand how this wallet works.
- Stores multiple currencies, beautiful and easy-to-use interface
- Doesn’t support smart contracts, not as secure as hardware wallets
It also includes plenty of useful features, such as ShapeShift integration for quick currency exchanges and easy access to your crypto holdings at all times.
From a security point of view, there’s an easy-to-use backup feature and your private keys never leave your machine. However, this wallet will never provide the same level of protection for your ETH as an offline wallet would, while it also doesn’t provide smart contract functionality.
Exodus is available for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems.
As the name suggests, a mobile wallet runs via an app you can download to your smartphone. They’re much the same as desktop wallets but are often easier to use, while you’ll also need to be wary of the security risk if you lose your phone.
- Stores multiple cryptocurrencies, convenience, user-friendliness, retaining control of private keys
- Some security concerns
From a security point of view, your private keys are stored on your device instead of on Jaxx’s server, while there’s no identification required to use the wallet. It also works on multiple platforms, with app and software downloads available for Android and iOS devices as well as Windows, OSX and Linux, plus a Chrome browser extension. We could’ve technically included Jaxx in the list of desktop wallets above, but its high level of functionality on smartphones helps it stand out in this space.
However, in June 2017, reports surfaced of a “vulnerability” in Jaxx that led to the theft of $400,000 in customer funds, so make sure you’re satisfied with the platform’s security features before signing up.
- Stores multiple crypto assets, ease of use, retaining private keys
- No iOS app (yet)
It’s simple to download and install the app and create a wallet, and the user interface is also reasonably straightforward. ShapeShift integration is another key feature, providing for fast exchanges between your crypto holdings.
The biggest downside is the lack of an iOS app, though an offering to please Apple users is reported to be coming soon.
A paper wallet allows you to print out your public and private keys and use that piece of paper as your wallet. It offers a safe way to store ETH offline, provided you follow a few key precautions to ensure the security of this physical document.
- Security, privacy, cheap cold storage
- Doesn’t support Ethereum Classic, inconvenient
If you want to keep your ETH in cold storage but you don’t want to fork out any money for a hardware wallet, you might want to look into the open-source ethaddress project. This paper wallet generator allows you to create an Ethereum wallet with your public and private keys printed on a piece of paper.
It’s free to use and offers all the security benefits of offline storage, and you can also encrypt your private key for additional protection.
However, paper wallets can be something of a hassle – not only do you have to worry about securely storing the all-important piece of paper, but it’s not all that convenient to access your funds in a hurry. It’s also worth mentioning that ethaddress won’t work with Ethereum Classic.
What steps can you take to safely and securely store Ethereum? Remember these simple tips:
- Store your private keys somewhere private. A private key is meant to be just that – private – so make sure you store yours in a safe place. If it’s kept online, ensure that it’s encrypted.
- Make a backup. Backup your wallet regularly to protect yourself against unexpected accidents or mishaps and ensure that your backup includes your most recent transactions.
- Go offline. If you’re holding a large amount of ETH or any other cryptocurrency, store the bulk of your funds in a reputable hardware wallet for the best security. You can also keep a small portion of your coins and tokens in a desktop or online wallet for quick access to spending money when you need to.
- Choose a wallet that suits your needs. Some wallets are focused on security and can be time-consuming to use; other wallets are better for frequent trading and provide easy access to your ETH. Make sure whichever wallet you choose is right for your requirements.
- Set up two-factor authentication. Be careful to make the most of any security features included with your wallet. For example, if you can set up two-factor authentication for an extra layer of protection, do it.
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